Understanding Lion's Mane Effects on the Brain

Understanding Lion’s Mane Effects on the Brain

Lion’s Mane or Hericium erinaceus mushrooms have a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine to treat, cure, or prevent digestive issues. However, recent research into the fungi’s bioactive compounds is demonstrating great potential for preventing and treating brain and nerve health-related issues. While this early research is still very limited, it’s making the popular culinary mushroom with seafood-like flavor a strong candidate in promoting positive brain and nerve health-related activities.

Does Lion’s Mane Effect the Brain?

Lion’s Mane is believed to affect the brain’s nerve cells through its ability to induce the nerve growth factor (NFG). As the name implies, NFG plays a role in the growth, maintenance, proliferation, and survival of nerve cells or neurons — and your brain has approximately 80 billion nerve cells.

In fact, Lion’s Mane mushrooms and extracts have demonstrated the ability to reduce symptoms of memory loss in animal studies as well as prevent the neural damage caused by amyloid-beta plaques, which are known to accumulate in the brains of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

In 2009, researchers investigated the brain health of Japanese men and women with ages ranging from 50-80 who’ve been diagnosed with mild cognitive impartment. Half of the 30 participants were given four 250 mg tablets containing 96 percent Lion’s Mane mushroom dry powder three times a day for 16 weeks and observed for four more weeks. The published study found that the Lion’s Mane group showed significantly increased scores on the cognitive function scale compared with the placebo group, with no adverse side effects. The findings of this relatively small study show that Lion’s Mane was effective in improving mild cognitive impairment.

To date, most of our research has been limited to animal studies and test tubes in laboratory settings. While the findings are promising, we certainly need more research before we definitely claim that Hericium erinaceus is an appropriate treatment for brain health-related issues.

What Makes Lion’s Mane Unique?

To understand how Hericium erinaceus may be used as a preventative measure or to help treat patients with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, researchers have been focusing on the fungi’s unique biologically active compounds, specifically, hericenones and erinacines — two natural substances isolated from Hericium erinaceus. To date, only erinacine A has confirmed pharmacological actions in the central nervous system in rats, but it has been shown potent stimulating activity of nerve growth factor synthesis in laboratory settings.

In a study published in 2014, researchers investigated whether Hericium erinaceus and isolated Erinacine A could function as an anti-inflammatory with neuroprotective properties for stroke victims. High doses of Lion’s Mane extract were given to rats immediately after a stroke, successfully reducing the inflammation and size of their stroke-related brain injuries by 44 percent. The study was able to conclude that the treatment does offer neuroprotective effects after ischemic brain injury, scavenge free radicals, and inhibit inflammation. These findings paint Lion’s Mane as a promising agent to help with neuroprotection, which may reduce ischemic brain damage.

Potential Side Effects

While there are no human studies that have examined the side effects of Lion’s Mane mushrooms or extracts, they are available for sale in their natural form at many grocery stores for cooking or health food retailers in dietary supplement form. If you’re sensitive or allergic to other mushrooms, you should avoid Lion’s Mane, as there have been documented cases of breathing difficulty and skin rashes after exposure to the product — both of which are likely related to an allergic reaction.

In a 2016 animal study using rats to evaluate the potentially toxic effects of the extract when orally administered, researchers concluded that “ that oral administration of HEAE is safe up to 1000mg/kg and H. erinaceus consumption is relatively non-toxic.”

Lion’s Mane Benefits — Final Thoughts

High-quality clinical studies to investigate how Lion’s Mane mushrooms, Hericium erinaceus extracts, or isolated compounds such as erinacine A may affect the human brain are still needed, but the published results from limited animal studies and in vitro experiments are very promising. As with any changes to your diet or wellness regimen, it’s always a good idea to seek advice from a licensed medical provider. But for aging patients whose brains struggle to maintain or form new connections, the future may one day become much better thanks to the natural ingredients contained in this fascinating fungi.

Stamets Stack

Stamets Stack

Microdosing activated mushrooms has increased in popularity as of late, thanks to the wide array of possible health benefits. One figure at the center is Paul Stamets, an expert who recommends “stacking” activated mushrooms with other compounds to maximize their potential. But who is Paul Stamets and what is a stack? How is it done? Read on to find out!

Who is Paul Stamets?

Revered and esteemed mycologist Paul Stamets is an entrepreneur in the use of activated mushrooms. In 1980, Stamets founded Fungi Perfecti to build the bridge between people and fungi. The organization engages in cutting-edge mycological research and innovative mycological solutions. Paul Stamets has written six books on activated mushrooms, and the research team at Fungi Perfecti conducts numerous studies on the effects of activated mushrooms. 

In an interview with Joe Rogan, Stamets described the basis for his mycology work. He states that 650 million years ago, humans separated from Fungi. He continues, explaining that primates share more common ancestry with fungi than any other kingdom. Like humans, fungi take in oxygen and produce carbon dioxide. Our best anti-biotics, like Penicillin, come from fungi because humans and fungi are susceptible to the same bacteria. Stamets hopes to find a way to interface with mushrooms in order to develop rapid responses to catastrophe, just as fungi have done for over a billion years. “We need to engage our fungal allies,” says Stamets. 

Stamets believes humanity is engaged in the sixth Major Extinction on Earth and that microdosing can help humanity make its next quantum leap in consciousness. He calls the process of brain evolution through activated mushroom use epigenetic neurogenesis. 

What is the Paul Stamets Stack?

Stamets proposes a stack method for microdosing activated mushrooms. The “Stamets Stack Formula” consists of .5-1 gram of activated mushrooms, 5-20 grams of Lion’s Mane mushroom, and 100-200 milligrams of Niacin (vitamin B3). Traditionally, activated mushrooms are dosed every 3 to 4 days, but Stamets suggests each person is different and may find different dose schedules and amounts work better for them. 

The activated mushroom strain designated in Stamets’ Stack Formula contains the same amount of active ingredients that were present in the activated mushrooms used in the 1960s to treat people for conditions like anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD). Each capsule of Lion’s Mane contains a half gram of dried fruiting bodies and mycelium, which gets converted to active ingredients upon consumption. Combined with the Niacin, Stamets purports the three elements create a catalytic and synergistic effect, helping the brain renew and expand. 

Stacking Synergy – How the Components Work Together

The Stamets Stack in a nootropic PSI-Vitamin Complex designed for epigenetic neurogenesis; increased creativity, cognition, and wellbeing. Lion’s Mane and activated mushrooms have a complementary relationship to one another, creating what Stamets refers to as the ultimate elixir. Combining the two, according to Stamets, creates a dual capacity for the production of new neurons and neural pathways, as well as repairing present neurological damage. 


Niacin promotes the deliverability of the microdose. Because Niacin works as a flushing agent and acts as a neurotransmitter, it helps distribute the activated mushroom molecules across the blood-brain barrier. Stamets proposes the combination of compounds can be incorporated into other therapies providing unique solutions for medically significant advancements in health, cognition, agility, and the ecology of consciousness. 

Stamets Stack – Final Thoughts

Stamets and Fungi Perfecti continue to collaborate, learn, and conduct microdosing research alongside the global community. It is Stamets’ mission to use policies, technologies, and holistic solutions for the sake of our life support systems. He believes that mushrooms offer powerful, practical solutions that can be put into practice immediately. Stamets believes in both the individual and collective power of activated mushroom therapy.